Hobditch Causeway

Description of this historic site

A linear feature, possibly part of a boundary, known as Hobditch Causeway, is visible as an earthwork. It is probably of Iron age or Roman date. It is located near Dean's Green.

Notes about this historic site

1 A linear earthwork 15m wide and 1m high with a ditch on either side. It runs for about 1.1 km ENE from the hamlet of Dean’s Green to the River Alne. A cutting was taken at SP1368 and indicated that the earthwork was the agger of a previously unknown Roman road. It was composed of local red clay thrown up from the ditches and capped with a layer of gravel. Evidence of Romano British occupation from the side ditches (PRN 4791).
2 The section has been completed. From S to N the earthwork consists of a roughly V-shaped ditch 5.2m wide and 2.1m deep. An embankment more than 15m wide, surviving to a height of just under 1.5m, with a more U-shaped ditch to the N, 5.5m wide and 2m deep. Both ditches seem to have been recut a number of times. The fill of the S ditch, above the bottom 0.6m, contained much Romano British occupation debris. The N ditch contained water-borne sand and silt and two tips of occupation debris. In both ditches the pottery is of two distinct phases – late 2nd century and 4th century. No finds from the primary silt. A series of trenches located a further V-shaped ditch parallel to the embankment and 20m to the S. This was 2.7m wide and 1.4m deep. This appears to have been a drainage ditch to the S of a gravel road c5.8m wide. The ditch was backfilled soon after construction.
3 1971: A new section revealed two ditches, but the ditch sequence was quite different from that in the early section. The site may be multiphased.
4 The earthwork probably represents a Roman road. However, the double/triple bank between Dean’s Green and Tanworth Lane gives the impression of a defensive barrier.
5 First excavation report (1965-1969).
6 1978: A trench was cut across the ploughed-down remains of the S bank. A pebble layer may represent the foundation of the bank. This bank was later cut into by buildings.
7 A broad double-ditched embankment with the significant name ‘Hobditch’. It appears to be too wide and pretentious to be considered a Roman road.
8 Partly bivallate linear earthwork, of uncertain date and purpose, standing some 2m high.
9 Note on excavations reported in WMANS 21 (1978).
10 1987: Further lengths of this major boundary system were located. The date and significance of the earthworks are uncertain. Whether it is more closely comparable to the so-called ‘territorial oppida’ or linear ditch systems of the ‘Jurassic spine’ is uncertain.
11 Excavation undertaken in 1987 in advance of the construction of the M40 motorway confirmed that a continuous hedge at Tapster Lane, Lapworth, overlay part of the Hobditch earthwork. A single C-14 date of 2530 +/- 90 BP was obtained from an associated ditch. This suggests that the earthwork is pre-Roman but it cannot be regarded as a definite date for the monument.
Survey work indicated traces of two other possible alignments of earthworks which may show that hobditch forms part of a territorial earthwork complex. However, a second excavation at Nuthurst Lane, Hockley Heath (SP 1471), failed to to confirm one of the possible alignments.
12 Plans.
13 Correspondence from 1972.
14 List of finds from 1971. Six sherds, one RB, three Medieval, two unidentified, and a piece of ironwork.
15 Undated site descriptions.
16 Photocopies of maps.
17 Field survey form from 1971.
18 Correspondence from 1982 in relation to protecting the site.
19 Correspondence from 1983.
20 Correspondence from 1984.
21 Geophysical surveys carried out in 1985 produced no helpful data.
22 Archival correspondence from 1986.
23 Estate agent’s brochure for the sale of Merryman’s Farm in 1987.
24 Correspondence relating to the sale in 23.
25 Correspondence and a short report from 1988 and 1997 with personal recollections of the excavations in the 1960s.
26 Copy of a letter from EH about protection of the site.
27 Negative archaeological evaluation close to the Hob ditch at Ullenhall.
28 A deposit, thought likely to be the fill of a ditch running along the southern side of the causeway, was recorded during evaluation at Three Firs, Dean’s Green, Ulenhall. The ditch could not be excavated due to the presence of a culvert along the top. This site is at the point where the earthwork remains of Hob’s Ditch end and the orientation is reputed to significantly alter, turning through nearly 90 degrees to run from Dean’s Green to Ullenhall.

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